The best things to see and do in Shibuya in 48 hours

Konnichiwa, fellow travel enthusiasts! If you’re reading this, chances are you share my fascination with the Land of the Rising Sun – Japan. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been utterly obsessed with Japan, from its rich history and captivating culture to its mouthwatering cuisine and bustling cityscapes. So, when the opportunity finally arose to visit this incredible country, I was beyond excited. But here’s the twist – I didn’t want just any ordinary trip. I craved an adventure that would immerse me in the heart of Tokyo, in one of its most vibrant and iconic districts – Shibuya.

The best things to see and do in Shibuya in 48 hours

Now, you might wonder, why Shibuya? Well, Shibuya is not just a place; it’s a pulsating, ever-evolving entity that represents the very essence of modern Japan. It’s where tradition meets innovation, and where the city’s energy surges through its streets like an electric current. And so, I embarked on hours of planning, researching and reading travel guides to curate the best possible experience of Shibuya. It was a labor of love, fueled by my desire to experience Shibuya in all its glory and share that experience with you.

So, if you’re seeking a comprehensive itinerary guide to Shibuya that offers an immersive taste of this remarkable corner of Japan, you’re in the right place. This isn’t just another travel blog; it’s a fusion of my own recent travels to Japan and the knowledge I’ve amassed through my obsession. I’ve carefully curated a 48-hour adventure that will take you on a whirlwind tour of Shibuya’s best, from iconic landmarks to hidden gems, delectable eats to cultural delights.

1. Start your day right with a Japanese style breakfast at Eggs ‘n Things: A Tropical Morning Oasis (Approx. ¥1,500)
Eggs ‘n Things is more than just a breakfast spot; it’s a tropical escape in the heart of Shibuya. As you step inside, you’re transported to a Hawaiian paradise. Surrounded by surfboards, the scent of freshly brewed coffee in the air, and a menu that reads like a dream, it’s the ideal place to kickstart your day. I recommend arriving early to secure a window seat; the view of Shibuya waking up is a priceless experience. The menu offers a delightful mix of breakfast classics with a tropical twist. From fluffy pancakes topped with fresh fruits to savory omelets and creamy eggs Benedict, every dish is a culinary delight. And don’t forget to try one of their signature tropical smoothies – a refreshing treat that complements the Hawaiian vibe perfectly.

The best things to see and do in Shibuya in 48 hours

Pro Tip: To secure a window seat with a view of Shibuya’s vibrant streets, arrive at Eggs ‘n Things early, preferably around 8:00 AM. It’s the perfect time to enjoy a leisurely breakfast before the city fully awakens.

2. Shibuya Crossing: Organized Chaos (Free)
Shibuya Crossing is an exhilarating symphony of organized chaos. Picture this: a bustling intersection with hundreds of people crisscrossing in every direction as if choreographed. To experience it at its peak, plan your visit around 10:00 AM when the pedestrian traffic reaches its zenith. However, Shibuya Crossing is a spectacle throughout the day, so you can’t go wrong whenever you choose to visit. For the best view, make your way to the second floor of the Starbucks at Shibuya Station’s Tsutaya building. From there, you’ll have an unbeatable vantage point to watch this mesmerizing dance of humanity unfold beneath you. It’s a photo op you won’t want to miss.

Shibuya Crossing

Pro Tip: For a unique perspective of Shibuya Crossing, head to the second-floor seating area at the Starbucks in the Tsutaya building. It offers an overhead view of the iconic intersection, and grabbing a coffee makes the experience even more enjoyable.

3. Center Street (Cost varies based on shopping)
Center Street, affectionately known as “Center Gai” by locals, is Shibuya’s beating heart. It’s a shopping and entertainment hub where Tokyo’s youth come to see and be seen. Here, you’ll find a captivating blend of boutiques, department stores, fast fashion outlets, and street food stalls. Take your time to explore the fashion-forward shops, from vintage boutiques brimming with unique finds to trendy outlets showcasing the latest streetwear. The vibe is electric, and it’s a great place for some retail therapy or simply people-watching. Don’t forget to sample some local street food while you’re here – takoyaki (octopus balls), yakitori (grilled skewers), and taiyaki (fish-shaped pastries filled with sweet or savory fillings) are among the must-try treats.

Pro Tip: While the main street is a must-visit, don’t forget to explore the narrower side streets around Center Street. You’ll often stumble upon hidden vintage shops and quaint eateries that are less crowded.

4. Ichiran Ramen: A Personalized Noodle Journey (Approx. ¥1,000)
Lunchtime at Ichiran Ramen is not just about satisfying your hunger; it’s an immersive culinary adventure. What sets Ichiran apart is its commitment to customization. From the thickness of the noodles to the richness of the broth and the intensity of the spices, you have the power to create your ideal bowl of ramen. If you’re new to Ichiran, no worries – there’s an English guide to help you navigate the ordering process. And when it comes to savoring your ramen, the solo booths are a standout feature. These individual dining compartments allow you to enjoy your meal in complete privacy. It’s a unique dining experience that’s perfect for introverts or anyone seeking an intimate meal with their ramen.

Pro Tip: If you’re visiting Ichiran during peak hours and encounter a line, don’t worry. Ichiran often has a dedicated staff member outside to help you order via a vending machine, saving you time.

Ramen
lantern alleyways

5. Yoyogi Park and Meiji Shrine (Free)
Yoyogi Park is an urban oasis that offers a tranquil escape from the bustling Shibuya streets. As you enter the park, you’ll immediately notice a shift in atmosphere. The noise of the city fades, replaced by the soothing sounds of nature. Here, you can take a leisurely stroll along winding pathways, relax under the shade of cherry blossom trees, or simply find a quiet spot to people-watch. Meiji Shrine, nestled within Yoyogi Park, is a cultural treasure. This Shinto shrine, dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, offers a glimpse into Japan’s rich history and spiritual traditions. When visiting, take a moment to participate in the customary ritual of writing your wishes on a wooden ema plaque and leaving it at the shrine. It’s a meaningful tradition that allows you to connect with the spiritual essence of Japan.

Pro Tip: Check the Meiji Shrine’s website for information about traditional ceremonies and performances that might be taking place during your visit. Witnessing a ceremony can add depth to your cultural experience.

Shibuya Park

6. Harajuku Takeshita Street (Cost varies based on shopping)
Takeshita Street in Harajuku is a whirlwind of colors, styles, and creativity. As you step onto this famous street, you’ll find yourself immersed in a world where self-expression knows no bounds. The boutiques lining Takeshita Street offer an eclectic mix of fashion, accessories, and novelty items. Whether you’re into kawaii (cute) culture, gothic fashion, or avant-garde streetwear, you’ll discover stores catering to every taste. While the main street itself is a must-visit, don’t forget to explore the charming side streets that often hide smaller boutiques and eateries. These quieter lanes are where you’ll uncover hidden gems that are less crowded but just as captivating. And if you have a sweet tooth, keep an eye out for Angels Heart, a hidden gem known for its delectable crepes filled with an array of mouthwatering ingredients.

Pro Tip: Takeshita Street gets crowded on weekends, so consider visiting on a weekday morning to have a more relaxed shopping experience. Also, try the various crepe stands for a tasty and portable treat.

Takeshita Street

7. Genki Sushi: Futuristic Dining (Approx. ¥2,000)
Genki Sushi is not your typical sushi joint; it’s a futuristic dining experience that’s sure to delight your senses. When you step inside, you’ll be greeted by a sleek, modern atmosphere with a unique twist – your sushi orders arrive via a mini bullet train! The touchscreen ordering system allows you to select your desired dishes, and then, like magic, your sushi zooms directly to your seat on the train. It’s not just the novelty that makes Genki Sushi special; the sushi itself is top-notch. Freshness is key here, and you’ll find a wide variety of sushi options to choose from. Whether you’re a sushi connoisseur or a first-timer, this interactive dining experience is a must-try.

Pro Tip: If you’re dining alone or prefer a bit of privacy, Genki Sushi’s solo booths are a great choice. You can savor your sushi at your own pace without distractions.

Shibuya restaurant

8. Shibuya Illuminations (Free)
As night descends, Shibuya transforms into a mesmerizing neon wonderland. The iconic Shibuya Crossing, with its dazzling billboards and colorful displays, is at the heart of this nightly spectacle. I recommend taking a leisurely stroll through the neon-lit streets to truly soak in the atmosphere. Capture the essence of “Shibuya at night” with your camera – it’s a visual feast that will make your Instagram feed shine. For an elevated perspective and a unique photo opportunity, head to the third-floor window seats at the Starbucks on Hachiko Exit. Sip on a warm beverage as you watch the city light up below you. It’s a quintessential Shibuya experience that doesn’t cost a yen.

Shibuya crossing

Pro Tip: While the Shibuya Crossing is the focal point of the evening light show, don’t forget to explore the surrounding streets, especially Dogenzaka and Center Street, for additional photo opportunities.

9. Sarabeth’s: New York-Style Brunch (Approx. ¥1,500)
Sarabeth’s is a slice of New York in the heart of Tokyo, and it’s the perfect spot to kick off your second day in Shibuya. The restaurant’s charming ambiance and cozy interior create an inviting atmosphere that’s perfect for a leisurely brunch. I recommend requesting a window seat; it’s the ideal spot for people-watching and taking in the vibrant Shibuya streets below. When it comes to the menu, Sarabeth’s offers a variety of classic brunch dishes executed to perfection. Whether you’re in the mood for fluffy pancakes, creamy eggs Benedict, or a hearty omelet, you’ll find it all here. And don’t forget to try their famous jams and preserves – they’re a delightful accompaniment to your meal.

Pro Tip: Sarabeth’s is a popular brunch spot, so consider making a reservation in advance to secure your preferred seating, especially if you have a window seat in mind.

Breakfast pancakes

10. Tokyo Art and Design University (Free)
For a dose of contemporary art and design, make your way to the Tokyo Art and Design University. This open-air gallery of modern design and art installations is a hidden gem that’s often overlooked by tourists. The campus itself is a work of art, with striking architecture and thought-provoking sculptures scattered throughout. If you’re a photography enthusiast, this place offers fantastic opportunities for creative shots. Take your time to explore the various installations and sculptures, and don’t forget to check out the rotating exhibitions that showcase the talent of emerging artists and designers. It’s a tranquil oasis of creativity that’s worth a visit.

Pro Tip: The campus offers unique photography opportunities, so bring your camera or smartphone. Explore the outdoor art installations and sculptures, and don’t be afraid to get creative with your shots.

11. Hikarie Shopping Complex (Cost varies based on shopping)
Adjacent to the Tokyo Art and Design University is Hikarie Shopping Complex, a shopping destination that combines high-end boutiques with emerging designer stores. As you enter, you’ll be greeted by a modern and sleek interior that sets the stage for a day of retail therapy. The shopping complex caters to a diverse range of tastes, making it a perfect spot for fashion enthusiasts. While you’ll find well-known international brands here, I recommend venturing to the upper floors for a more curated selection of boutique shops. The rooftop garden is also a delightful surprise – it’s a serene oasis where you can take a break and enjoy some tranquility amidst the urban hustle and bustle.

Pro Tip: For a quieter shopping experience, visit Hikarie during weekdays when it’s less crowded. The upper floors house a selection of boutique shops that are perfect for fashion enthusiasts.

Shibuya street

12. Afuri Ramen: A Zesty Noodle Experience (Approx. ¥1,200)
Lunchtime calls for a culinary adventure at Afuri Ramen, known for its yuzu-infused ramen. The moment you step inside, you’ll be greeted by the aroma of simmering broth and the lively chatter of diners. The menu features a range of ramen options, each offering a unique flavor profile. However, the star of the show is the yuzu shio ramen, a citrusy delight that’s both refreshing and comforting. Be sure to order a side of gyoza to complement your ramen – the crispy dumplings are a perfect match. Whether you’re a ramen aficionado or new to the world of Japanese noodle soups, Afuri Ramen promises a memorable dining experience that’s sure to please your taste buds.

Pro Tip: If you’re unsure about spice levels, start with a lower level and adjust as you go. Afuri Ramen’s yuzu-infused ramen is a refreshing choice, especially if you’re looking for a unique twist on classic ramen.

Shibuya street

13. Street Art Safari in Shibuya (Free)
Now, it’s time to immerse yourself in Shibuya’s vibrant street art scene. As you venture through the streets and alleyways, you’ll discover a treasure trove of colorful murals, graffiti, and artistic expressions. Each turn reveals a new piece of art, and it’s a testament to the creativity that thrives in this district. Armed with your camera or smartphone, you can capture these urban artworks and document your own street art safari. Don’t rush – take your time to appreciate the details and the messages behind each piece. You’ll find that the street art in Shibuya is a dynamic reflection of the neighborhood’s ever-evolving spirit.

Shibuya street art

Pro Tip: Shibuya’s street art is constantly evolving, so keep an eye out for new pieces as you explore. Early mornings or late afternoons are often quieter times to enjoy the art without the crowds.

14. Tsutaya Books and Daikanyama (Free, unless you buy books)
Bookworms, rejoice! Tsutaya Books in Daikanyama is a haven for literature lovers and design enthusiasts alike. The moment you step inside, you’ll be greeted by the intoxicating scent of books and the sight of towering shelves filled with literary treasures. The architecture and interior design of this bookstore are a work of art in themselves, with carefully curated book displays that beckon you to explore. Even if you’re not a dedicated reader, Tsutaya Books is a place to seek inspiration, whether it’s through the pages of a novel, the design of a magazine, or the ambiance of a reading nook. You might find yourself spending hours lost in the world of words and ideas.

Shibuya bookshop

Pro Tip: Even if you’re not a bookworm, Tsutaya Books is a fantastic place to relax and enjoy a coffee or neat, little cocktail while admiring the stunning architecture. Take some time to explore the tranquil corners and cozy reading nooks.

15. Toritama: Yakitori Delight (Approx. ¥2,000)
For your final dinner in Shibuya, treat yourself to Toritama, a cozy and welcoming spot that specializes in yakitori, or grilled skewers of chicken and vegetables. The moment you walk in, you’ll be enveloped in the savory aroma of skewers sizzling on the grill. While the menu boasts a variety of options, I recommend going for the chef’s selection. This allows you to sample an array of mouthwatering skewers without having to make difficult choices. From tender chicken thighs to crispy chicken skin and perfectly grilled vegetables, each skewer offers a unique flavor and texture. Pair your meal with a local beer or sake for the full yakitori experience. It’s a delightful way to savor the flavors of Japan in a cozy and intimate setting.

Pro Tip: While Toritama offers a chef’s selection, don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations or explore the menu for unique skewer options. Pair your meal with a local beer or sake for an authentic experience.

Japan restaurants

16. Chelsea Hotel: Live Music (Check ticket prices)
To conclude your 48-hour adventure in Shibuya, I recommend indulging in some live music at Chelsea Hotel. The venue’s schedule features a diverse range of musical acts, from local indie bands to international artists. Before your visit, it’s a good idea to check their schedule online and book tickets in advance, especially if there’s a particular act you’d like to see. Arrive a bit early to secure a good spot, and don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation with fellow music enthusiasts – you might uncover some hidden gems in the local music scene. Chelsea Hotel offers an intimate setting to enjoy live performances, making it a perfect way to conclude your Shibuya journey on a musical note.

Pro Tip: Check Chelsea Hotel’s website or social media channels for updates on upcoming events and performances. Booking tickets in advance ensures you won’t miss out on a memorable musical evening.

So, that’s the big list of things to do in Shibuya, tell me below which ones you are most excited about!